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Can Trucks Drive in the Left Lane?

Posted on July 29, 2020 in Truck Accidents

The left lane of a multiple-lane highway is for faster-moving traffic. This is a traffic law on all highways in California. If you are moving slower than someone behind you in the left lane, you should get over and allow the faster-moving driver to pass. Unless a speed limit sign states otherwise, the maximum speed for all large trucks on highways with at least two lanes moving in the same direction is 55 miles per hour in California. Due to their reduced speed, trucks in California cannot drive in the left lane on multiple lane highways.

Rules Against Trucks Using the Left Lane in California

It is against the law for commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, big rigs and vehicles towing trailers to drive in the lane farthest to the left on an undivided highway with at least two lanes of same-direction traffic in California. Doing so could destabilize traffic and cause motor vehicle accidents. If a vehicle with a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour were to drive in the fast lane, it would force the following vehicles to either slow down or pass the truck. Both are dangerous for different reasons.

Reducing the speed in the fast lane with a slow-moving truck will cause greater traffic congestion, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions. Forcing drivers to pass a slow-moving truck in a non-passing lane could lead to lane-change, merge and sideswipe accidents. Allowing large trucks and other slow-moving vehicles in the left lane, therefore, creates a safety risk for everyone on the road. Thus, California law prohibits any vehicle with three axles or more, as well as trucks towing vehicles, form operating in the left-hand lane.

Large trucks and other vehicles with at least three axles must instead use the right-most lane on a highway with three or fewer lanes of traffic in California. If the highway has four or more lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, the truck can use the right two lanes. The truck driver may only enter the lane to the left when overtaking and passing another vehicle. California is one of the only states with such strict lane requirements for large trucks. If a truck driver does not stay in the correct lane on a highway in California, he or she could face fines of up to $250 for a third offense within 12 months. The California Highway Patrol enforces this law.

Designated Lanes for Trucks in California

The left-lane rule is one of dozens of laws that specifically pertain to commercial trucks in California. California Vehicle Code also has other laws, such as truck-only lanes. In two locations in California, big rigs may only use designated truck-only lanes. They cannot lawfully share the highway with other motorists on these roads. There are truck-only lanes on Interstate 5 at the State Route 14 split in LA County (northbound and southbound) as well as at the State Route 99 junction in Kern County (southbound).

What to Do After a Truck Accident in Los Angeles

Truck-only lanes, left-lane restrictions and other trucking laws are in place for the safety of motorists. They aim to keep truckers and motorists separate as much as possible. When a truck driver breaks a state law, he or she could cause an accident. If you get into a truck accident in California, discuss your right to file an injury claim against the truck driver or trucking company with a Los Angeles truck accident attorney.

Collect information about your truck accident, such as the name of the trucking company and the truck’s license plate number. Take photos of your collision and related damages. Go to a hospital in Los Angeles right away if you have injuries. Keep copies of your police report and health care records. Then, take all the information you have to a personal injury lawyer near you for review. A lawyer may be able to help you demand compensation from the party liable for your accident.